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Three Sonnets

ISSUE:  Autumn 1943

Fifth Column

The porcine caterpillar on the tree In summer’s copious salad-bowl engrossed,
Concerned the least with what concerns him most—
His splendid ugly-duckling destiny—
May find that he is marked perforce to be All winterlong the sacrificial host To a lean, sordid, life-consuming ghost: The parasitic Ichneumonidae.
As, intimately, both await the spring,
The one cocoon asylum from the storm,
And spring awaits the moth in full perfection,
The vampire children of the fateful sting Devour the substance and destroy the form,
To shock the world with hideous resurrection.


The sapling mind, oblivious yet of death,
Sucking the gift of life, neglects to wonder Why thrushes sing and nestlings draw a breath Or why the green turf springs and young hoofs thunder.
But brown autumnal aftermaths of spring—
Satirical of gleaming summer’s pride—
Bring now the mortal pang, throat-tightening,
Now that the fluent saps of life are dried.
The caterpillar at his Rubicon,
His green and chubby succulence now ebbing,
Forefeels hibernal night, and thereupon
Enshrouds himself in dun funereal webbing.
Is this the promise of a psyche free?
Or the mere dawning of maturity?


If flesh could make new compact with the mind And one clear morning leave our eyes unsealed,
That we might rise in rapt dismay to find The stature of the soul in flesh revealed: Then might we see ourselves homunculi,
While potentates, like vermin, crawled the floor;
Might gain perspective as we gazed on high At humble Titans stooping at the door.
What roles reversed and rankings rearranged!
What yearning for incognitos that were!
With here and there a grateful soul unchanged,
Content to find itself, like Gulliver,
A darling of the Brobdingnagians, but
Of bulk enough to startle Lilliput.


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